Beginning June 1st, 2015, electric mobility scooters, trikes, and other motorized wheelchairs will be subject to the laws governing driving, the same as other users of the road in Magog, Quebec, Canada. Transport Quebec just publicly revealed its pilot project aimed at supervising the conduct of these vehicles that together are labelled as AAM (from the French for “Motorized Mobility Aid”).
In addition to submitting users to regulation, the project gives police officers the power to legally intervene and to give out tickets to rule violators when necessary. “With this bill, the role of AAMs is now much clearer to everyone. Now we just have to inform AAM drivers about the different rules,” indicates police officer Paul Tear, heavily involved in the project’s development over the past few years.
According to the information provided by the Minister of Transportation and the Official Gazette of Quebec, “delinquent” drivers are subject to fines ranging from 30-360 dollars. But the pilot project goes even further in obligating owners of AAMs to report any type of accident to the police, whether it be with a pedestrian, another vehicle of the same type, or even an animal weighing more than 25 kilos.
“Drivers now have obligations that are similar to other users of the road. If they are involved in an accident and do not remain at the scene, they could be accused of a hit-and-run,” Paul Tear explains.
Even though the new law imposes restrictions on users of AAMs, it should make the majority of AAM users happy.
An organization that defends handicapped AAM users, Han-Quadri, has been working on the project since 2007 (along with the Memphrémagog police) and even participated in a study on the habits of AAM users in a small city. Notably, several members contributed to the study by recording their comings and goings with the help of GoPro-style cameras. “They kept some of our recommendations in the plan, like that of requiring pennants and reflectors on scooters and wheelchairs. I am very happy with this pilot project,” says the president of Han-Quadri, Jacques Gaudreau. Among the rules that risk changing certain riders’ habits is one that makes it illegal to have two passengers on an AAM (unless the second person is a child younger than 5 years old, wearing a safety restraint).
Another requires AAM users to ride in the same direction as traffic if there is no sidewalk. “In certain cases, drivers of AAMs will need to act like cyclists, and in other cases, like pedestrians, as they still have the right to ride on the sidewalk. A learning period will be necessary so that everyone can get used to this new law,” says Paul Tear.
In order to familiarize themselves with the new rules, all owners of AAMs are urged to come to an informational session at 1:30 pm on June 10th, at the Moulin parking lot in Magog. Representatives from the Memphrémagog Police and Han-Quadri will be on location to answer all questions.
Do you agree that those using motorized scooters and wheelchairs should be more highly regulated, like cyclists? Or is regulation demeaning to those who use such mobility aids? Does your city regulate the use of AAMs or wheelchair users? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French, here.